When Chris and I first accepted the call to serve in Africa, we were named Directors of the Secondary School. Our main goal was to help oversee and organize programs at the newly purchased school. With our experience and expertise in education, we were excited about this challenge!
In preparing for the trip, we continued to clarify our goals and projects with Simone. We quickly realized our work would not only focus on the Secondary School, but also involve a collection of projects in and around both the Primary and Secondary Schools. Changing our “official” title to Volunteers was better fitting and allowed us the flexibility to minister in a variety of areas. Simone has many big dreams for the students and staff at both schools, and we were thrilled about being a small part of those projects!
Simone has many big dreams for the students and staff at both schools, and we were thrilled about being a small part of those projects!
July-October | Student-Sponsor Letters
Since arriving here in July, we’ve had a multitude of opportunities to minister and serve the community of Nakaseke. Most of the summer team left right before our arrival. However, a few team members extended their stay, so they could spend more time serving the people and organization. Before they left at the end of July, we joined their work in collecting letters from students to their sponsors. During the letter-collection process, it became evident our student records needed some serious organization. Some students were no longer attending the school. Others were in different grades. Name-spellings varied from one document to the next. So, we quickly began updating class rosters and brainstorming attendance policies with the staff.
August-November | Attendance Policies
Attendance is a challenge for many of the students in the community. I was shocked when only a few children showed up for school after the break. Term three begins during one of the two rainy seasons in Uganda, and families need their children to help dig in the garden. Garden produce equals income and food for a family. In addition, families/guardians struggle in paying for term fees, so they may not send their students until the third week of school! During a holiday, some families move to new villages and cannot travel the far distances to school. Attendance is always low after a good rain and on every Thursday—the town’s local market day. Amidst other barriers to good attendance, we have implemented some guidelines to help combat this struggle rooted deep in the culture. We are keeping better records, building incentive programs, educating the parents, and establishing policies. The school staff and organization’s sponsors believe in the importance of strong attendance and its link to success in school.
August-November | Photography of staff, students, & schools
In addition to our work on student records and attendance policies, we have continued our annual project of photographing portraits of the students. Every year, our sponsors in the US receive a new photo of the child/children they support. With well over 500 sponsored children, this task takes a few weeks. (Especially when we have to track down all those absent students!) I also get the pleasure of documenting the happenings both in and around the school. Simone’s Kids receives thousands of marketing photographs capturing school assemblies, science experiments, completed fundraising projects, and those we are planning for the future. Each staff member received a professional portrait this year, too! I love following the students, staff, and construction workers around with my Nikon knowing the images will inspire others to get involved with the great work happening here.
I love following the students, staff, and construction workers around with my Nikon knowing the images will inspire others to get involved with the great work happening here.